An attorney for the Sisters of Saint Dorothy said Thursday that his clients’ next step could be to file suit against the town in Rhode Island Superior Court, after a town board declined Wednesday night to hear a tax appeal by the owners of the former Our Lady of Fatima school on Market Street.
The Sisters had twice appeared before the Warren Tax Assessment Board of Review in hopes of changing the tax status of the school, which closed in June 2012. The change in status, from tax exempt to fully taxed, came after the school closed and led almost immediately to a $102,000 tax bill. The religious order had asked the board to reclassify the property as tax-exempt, but in a 4-1 vote members declined to do so.
“As much as we would have liked to have helped them, we couldn’t,” board member Jim Harper said. “And actually (the tax status) is kind of a gray area. The feeling was, take it to court and let a judge decide that one.”
That would be the next step, Sisters attorney John Garrahy said Thursday. Though he hadn’t spoken with his clients since Wednesday night’s decision, Mr. Garrahy said he would speak to them and tell them that court is the next step.
The town appeal wasn’t the only step the Sisters took to try to re-instate the property’s tax exempt status. The order also began offering limited classes and tutoring in the building earlier this fall, though Warren Tax Assessor Cathy Maisano said that action likely wasn’t enough to warrant a full exemption.
The school is on the market for $5.99 million. Though Mr. Garrahy said there have been several interested parties, there have been no offers yet.